Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
I got an e-mail from a group called 21st Century Democrats, bemoaning the fact that a recent poll shows that 55% of likely voters said that the word “socialist” describes Obama and his policies.
The 21st Century Democrats said, “You and I know [that] is not the case.”
I only wish it were!
I wish Obama had pressed for single-payer national health care.
I wish Obama had nationalized Citicorp and Bank of America, rather than bail them out.
I wish he would have favored breaking up the rest of the big banks so they couldn’t destroy our economy.
I wish he would have forced any banks taking federal bailout money to freeze foreclosures for at least a year and freeze interest rates on mortgages and credit cards.
I wish Obama would have proposed redistributing income from the wealthy to those who really need it by raising the marginal income tax, and the capital gains tax, and the estate tax.
I wish Obama would have proposed a transaction tax on every stock sale so as to curb speculation.
I wish Obama would have proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, as Ralph Nader has proposed.
I wish Obama would have replaced Ben Bernanke at the Fed with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
I wish Obama would have come out for democratizing the Fed, as Dennis Kucinich has recommended.
I wish Obama would have proposed a public works program to put every American who needs a job to work.
I wish Obama would have ordered every federal building to be installed with a solar panel, and almost every car in the federal fleet to be a hybrid or electric car.
I wish Obama would have proposed opening federal grocery stores in areas that are food deserts.
I wish Obama would have addressed the cruel problem of poverty in America.
I wish Obama would have proposed 12 months of paid maternity and paternity leave, mandatory paid sick leave, and federal child care.
I wish Obama would have advocated the nationalization of the armament companies, as Sen. Robert La Follette did back in 1924.
I wish Obama would have promoted ideas of worker participation in management, as it prevails in Germany, for instance.
No decent socialist would have implemented policies that have left unemployment at over 9 percent and foreclosures at record heights.
No decent socialist would have let the banks get off so easily.
No decent socialist would have been caught dead praising the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and justifying their obscene salaries the way Obama did. (“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”)
No decent socialist would have left the health insurance industries in the driver’s seat.
No decent socialist would have empowered a panel to advocate the cutting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
No decent socialist would have expanded the war in Afghanistan, a hopeless war being fought by the sons and daughters of America’s working class.
So, no, Obama isn’t a socialist. Not even close.
But we’d be a lot better off in this country if he were.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “National Review Applauds Poverty, Blames Debt on Progressivism.”
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter